Friday, October 23, 2009

Christian Poetry by Saint Ed


‘Oh! Could you not watch with me just for one hour?’
The Lord asks of us from Gethsemane’s bower.
That question is challenging - what can we say
To Jesus Who loves us and calls us today?
Do we care so little? Then great is our shame
If we seldom pray in His wonderful Name.
Yet Jesus still pleads with us - well does He know
That our frame is human and subject to woe.

We have much to learn from our Saviour and Lord,
And guidance we’ll get in the Light from His Word.
It’s there that He warns us to watch and to pray,
For evil temptations lie thick on our way.
We know we should serve Him, and surely will try,
But flesh is a weak thing on which to rely.
We have good intentions yet, try as we will,
The spectre of failure lies over us still.

So take care, dear friends, look to Him while you may
For Jesus is waiting to bless you today.
Do pray with Him now; spend an hour at His feet
And you will be blessed by that fellowship sweet.
You’ll find, as you watch and you wait on the King,
That you will rejoice as His praises you sing;
And strength that you need to fight evil each day
Will surely increase every hour that you pray.

Saint Ed
This poem is taken from my anthology of poetry entitled 'You are Special'.
It is available at R20 per copy including postage.

Micro Messages


Are you any good at maths? Don't worry; this will be an easy test to answer. We all know talented people who seem to have it all: charisma; charm; good intellect; organizing ability; a multiplicity of skills like playing music, singing, leadership, good public speaking, prowess in sport and so on. We can't help thinking they are meant for bigger things. We, on the other hand, seem to be limited in our abilities. Sometimes you just do not see yourself as being worth too much to anyone. Don't kid yourself! God has made you the way you are so you won't need to worry about being a lesser servant.

Time for some maths! As I see it, if someone has five talents/gifts, for example evangelism, prophecy, helps, miracles of healing and administration, and only uses four then he/she has only given 80 % of what they can give. A person with just one talent, say, helps, and uses it non-stop, that person has given 100%. Right? Right!

You might be one of those who feel inferior in God's service because you have only one small gift to offer God. Stop hassling and let God use you and your gift to the full then you will score one hundred per cent with Him!

Okay, so this is not a great analogy, but I'm sure you get the point I am trying to put across. And I have scriptural support for the concept in Luke 12:48
'To whom much is given, much will be required’. Get it?

Every Christian is accountable to God for the usage of the talents and abilities that He has given them. Here are some more scriptures that have relevance:

1. Luke 21:2-4. Jesus was impressed with the widow giving all she had (100%). Comparing her with the rich who threw in bags of money, He said she had given more than they had! How come? Because they gave only some of what they owned, while she gave everything she had.

2. 1 Corinthians 12:11. Be satisfied with what you can do and do it to the best of your ability for God. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift allocated as the Holy Spirit has determined (not usually by our choice). Some have a gift or gifts that develop into a huge, well-known ministry. Yours might be a smaller ministry, but don't feel inferior if all you can do is, for instance, visitation. Think of it like this: a ministry such as Dr. Billy Graham's can be likened to a giant searchlight that lights up the skies at night and is visible from many miles away. By comparison, yours might be a one on one ministry, comparable to a candle. But that candle can light up dark places where the big searchlight cannot reach, bringing hope to those in dungeons or hidden corners. And both Dr Graham and you are accountable to God for how you use your gifts in His service!

May the Lord help you to rejoice in whatever ministry He opens up for you - and you alone - to do.

Saint Ed.

Saturday, October 17, 2009



To those who say that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, my response is that the Bible, having proved its credentials in many ways including by prophecies that have come to pass and by the inspirational nature of its contents and by the consistency of its teachings, has to have been inspired by God, the Creator of the universe. What are the credentials of those who say it is not the inerrant word of God? Who gives them the authority to decide what parts of the Bible are of value and what parts must be rejected? Personally, I don't believe there is anyone in the world who has the capacity to determine what in the Bible is acceptable and what is not. For me the simple answer is that what has come to us as God's word has to be what He intended us to receive 'as is' (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I don't believe that the God Who made the earth, the heavens and all life that exists in such a wonderful way together will screw up when it comes to putting together the inspired word that we need for our guidance.
That said, I am not claiming that everything recorded in the Bible is completely correct or accurate. For example there are statements made by some of the characters which are not true, such as the false prophecies by false prophets. These records are included because the Bible is a 'warts and all' account of matters that God wants us to know or learn about. Take King David, for instance. We are shown that he is not a perfect man, yet he is a 'man after God's own heart' because of his honesty about his own great sinfulness. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we are able to learn lessons from his life.
In saying that the Bible is the inerrant word of God I believe that in order to know its great truths it must be read under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God Who inspired its writers in the first place (1 Corinthians 2:13). This can only be done by those who are born again for they alone, of all so-called Christians, have the Holy Spirit indwelling them.
As an example of where we need to exercise care in understanding the Bible we will look briefly at the subject of women preachers. The most influential verses on this matter, the ones quoted the most by those who refuse to acknowledge the right of women to preach, is found in Paul's first letter to Timothy 2:12-14.
1. Which authority is quoted? 'I do not allow a woman to teach.' Note the personal 'I'. I have no problem with identifying this as Paul's private opinion. He does this in other places such as 1 Corinthians 7:12. We need to take care to be sure who Paul mentions as his authority: himself or God?
2. When speaking on his own authority does Paul always get it right? In 1 Timothy 2:13-14. Paul claims that Adam was not deceived. Was he right? Genesis 3:6-7 supplies the answer. There is no doubt that Adam was with Eve when she took the fruit, so he was equally deceived with Eve. We must be careful to note that it's not the Bible account that is incorrect; it was Paul's recollection of what took place that is wrong. I believe that Paul's bias against women in authority made him put all the blame on Eve. It is not that the Bible is wrong; what we have is a simple record of Paul's thoughts faithfully recorded, just as it was in the case of the false prophets in Old Testament times. In Paul's case I see it as a genuine personal mistake of the kind that many people can make unintentionally. Does this mean that we must be wary of Pauline thoughts? Not at all. I believe Paul's teachings are based on the full Bible record and are sound - except, as we have seen, when he admits to [not being guided by God but is] stating his own beliefs.
3. It is important to distinguish between essential and non-essential doctrine. Whatever our thinking about women preachers - whether they should be allowed to preach or not - does not alter an essential doctrine (such as the one that Jesus set out about the need to be born again in order to go to heaven in John 3:3-6). Even if your views about women preachers is absolutely correct, that will be of no consequence compared with the essential need to love God and your neighbour with all that you have got(Matthew 22:37-9). That requirement to love is a more important matter than 'having all knowledge about' baptisms, communion, washing of feet, as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 13. Displaying a lack of love for others while religiously espousing church traditions will not help you when you stand before God (Revelation 2:4).
MY CONCLUSION: I believe the Bible is God's inerrant, reliable word. As Jesus put it: 'Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away' (Matthew 24:35). It will all be fulfilled!

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Spiritual Odyssey

by Edward John Kidgell ('edthekid' and 'saint ed')


On 8 September 2009 I celebrated my biblical three-score-and-ten years on this earth. How much longer I have to live remains to be seen. At a guess I will still be around when the Lord returns for me and the rest of the saints on earth for I am in reasonably good health, allowing for the small aches and pains that affect my joints. As for my mind, I think it functions OK but there are those who would argue otherwise. However I must still love them for that is what the Lord wants of me!
Health aside, my continued existence depends largely on how soon the Lord is going to return, as I don't think I'm about to be run over by a steam roller. But I am certainly looking forward to the return of the Lord. That could be very, very soon – maybe even before I finish this chapter!
Like many another, I have suddenly been moved to share my life’s story. In my case it is with the hope of being of spiritual help to any who happen to read what I have to say. And with seventy years to draw on there is plenty to write about! In all fairness to any who might want to follow my life’s story, I must warn potential readers that my objective in sharing it is to glorify God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
I am an evangelical Christian; a ‘born again’ believer (or saint!) who is convinced that salvation is found alone in Jesus Christ Who said ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man will enter the presence of the Father except through Me.’ (John’s Gospel, chapter 14 verse 6). By the way, where I think it necessary I will be rendering the Bible verses I quote into words that I hope will make their meaning clearer, especially for those for whom the Bible is unfamiliar territory.
In sharing so as to glorify God I will be following the Biblical pattern of telling the story warts and all, not trying to hide any of my failures as a Christian. I want those who read my story to be encouraged and strengthened in their faith. At this point I am not sure what issues I will deal with as regards biblical doctrines and my personal history but, whatever I do write about, the purpose will be to teach the lessons I have learned during my spiritual odyssey. If you want to know what are the main lessons I intend to share they are about they will include:
1. The Love of God;
2. Salvation is through Jesus alone;
3. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is of paramount importance for all believers.
Once these three all-important factors are appreciated and applied then the last lesson becomes easy to grasp, namely
4. The necessity for Christians to practise and uphold unity in the body of Christ.

So there you have it; my reasons for sharing my life with any who read it. You will notice that my thoughts tend to jump around like a grasshopper as different things come to mind. However, whatever topics I cover and no matter how much I wander from one incident to another, the four objectives mentioned above will usually be linked. I will not adhere strictly to the chronological order. If, when relating a particular incident, I think it necessary to refer to something from earlier or later times so be it. This autobiography is not just about what happened, but also about my thinking at the time; how I viewed the events taking place in the light of my spiritual odyssey.


Deafness has had a huge impact on my life which is why I am going to spend some time writing about it. Unless you know where I am coming from you will not always appreciate why I did some of the things I did do.
I was born in a house in Stamford Hill Road, Greyville, Durban. The house is long gone. When I visited the site a couple of years back a large building on it housed a computer company. Thinking rather facetiously, I thought to myself that maybe I should put a plaque on the front wall to say that ‘Eddie Kidgell was born on this site: 8 September 1939’. That was because I remembered that there is such a plaque in Bloemfontein’s main street to indicate where J R R Tolkein, author of ‘The Lord of the rings’ and a few other popular books, was born. Oh, well. We can’t all be famous. However, although my name is not written down anywhere thought worthwhile by most people on earth, it is written down in the most important place of all: the Book of Life (Revelation 3:5; 21:27)! You might challenge me by asking whether or not I have done things that are impure, shameful or deceitful. My answer is: Yes, I have, but those sins have all been expunged from the eternal record of my life, washed away by the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of believers (1 John 1:9)! More about that later.
I was born with normal hearing but lost much of it in both ears thanks to the doctor who attended me. I was about eighteen months old when I developed abscesses in each ear. The doctor apparently told my mother to put certain drops into my ears, which she duly did. Within a week both abscesses burst, perforating the ear drums in the process. That left me with about sixty per cent hearing in the left ear and much, much less in the right ear. Over the years that hearing level declined, and I was forced to wear a hearing aid in order to cope in life. My mother rejected the doctor’s suggestion that I be sent to the school for the deaf in Worcester, Western Cape. Instead, I went to a normal school. My mother took it upon herself to teach me to read and speak correctly which is why my speech does not sound like that of some of the other very deaf people one meets in life. When it came to reading, she sat me on her lap and spoke directly into my good (left) ear,making me repeat what she was saying until I pronounced the words correctly. I owe her much for the care she so loving lavished on me.
How did I cope with schooling? I have to admit that I battled. In my first two and a half years of school I did not wear a hearing aid. For the first two years I went to the Convent of the Holy Family in Pietermaritzburg, which is where Rosewood retirement complex is now situated. Fortunately the nuns who taught me were very helpful. They sat me in the front row of the class, and purposely raised their voices so that I could hear most of the lessons. Even so, I missed a lot, for I barely passed. In Grade 3 (Standard 1, back then) I went to a school called Harward Boys’ Secondary School. This school closed down some years subsequent to me completing my matric. For the first half of the year I still did not have a hearing aid. Again the teacher was very helpful, seating me at the front of the class and speaking loudly for my benefit. She was Mrs Pechey, and her birthday was on the same day as mine. When my birthday came around she had me stand in front of the whole class and had them sing for me. That was not all. Every year thereafter, right up to my matric year, she would send for me on my birthday and have the class sing for me – and her! I must admit I felt a bit shy about it but I could see she got a kick out of it, bless her.
At the half way mark in 1948 I came around midway in a class of forty pupils. It was then that my parents decided that I needed to wear a hearing aid. They took me to Durban to see a hearing aid acoustician, Mr Philip Kairuz, a real gentleman. I believe he became a Durban city councillor in later years. Philip fitted me with my very first hearing aid, a Tedelex. It was about the size of a pencil box and had wires that connected it to the earpiece. Altogether, it was a huge affair compared with the smaller yet more powerful ones that have come out since. In those days one of my aunts used to call me ‘Teddums’ (I loved my aunt but hated her name for me!) so I suppose a slogan like ‘A Tedelex for Teddums’ would have been appropriate! Today I wear an aid that fits discreetly behind my left ear, a wonderfully convenient piece of electronic equipment. Unfortunately that very discreetness means that many people do not realise that I am very, very deaf and tend to talk to me in a normal tone. As a result I often have to guess what they are talking about. Often I am repeatedly saying, ‘Pardon me. What was that you said?’
By the way, if you are talking to a deaf person wearing a hearing aid, don’t shout; that distorts the sound, sometimes forcing the deaf person to reduce his volume to the level where he or she almost can’t hear you at all. When talking to deaf people simply speak slowly and clearly, enunciating your words. It’s that easy! Incidentally, although acknowledging that I do have a hearing disability, I do not see myself as handicapped. Inconvenienced, yes, but not handicapped.
When the third term came around and I pitched up at school wearing a hearing aid I was something of a seven day wonder to my classmates. ‘Kidgell can hear! It’s amazing! That ‘deaf ou’ (Afrikaans equivalent of 'bloke' popularly used by English-speaking South Africans; rhymes with 'no') can hear with that thing in his ear!’
At first I was really embarrassed about wearing the hearing aid in public, and only wore it out of sheer necessity. That is why, during the school breaks (tea and lunch), I chose to not wear it; it was too embarrassing to have the whole school gawking at the deaf 'ou' wearing a hearing aid. The cord strung from the ear piece to the main aid in my shirt pocket was all too visible, unlike the in-the-ear discreetness that I enjoy today.
Embarrassing or not, that hearing aid made a difference to my academic progress. By the end of the year I was in the top five of my class and stayed there for the rest of my academic years in spite of turning out to be a very lazy scholar. In retrospect I wish I had been more diligent and goal-oriented during my school years. I was too casual about my studies and life; quite happy to take both as they came. This put me at the mercy of circumstances rather than that I had control of my life. For any young person who might read this autobiography my advice is: be diligent about your studies, and set goals to be the best you can be in your class and in life. It will be worth the effort! You will get out of life what you put in!
In 1958 I had a couple of operations on my left ear (I think it is called a ‘tympanoplasty’). The purpose was to recreate a complete eardrum in my left ear. Although initially it did provide me with better hearing (I think about 65 % of normal hearing), through the years since the operation my hearing has declined. Today I have virtually no hearing in my right ear, due to most of the inner workings being removed during a mastoid operation. As for my ‘good’ left ear, the level has dropped to less than 20 %. When not wearing a hearing aid my world is an almost completely silent one. My wife, Merle, does not know how much she talks to herself!
In conversations on a one to one basis I usually cope well enough but, like other deaf people who use a hearing aid , being in a voluble crowd or where there is a lot of music or noise makes it difficult for me to hear individual conversation or specific sounds. So I avoid crowds. It is because I generally get by with my augmented - but still limited - hearing that most folk don’t appreciate how difficult it is for me to hold a normal conversation. But don’t think I am downhearted about it. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways that I can’t complain about my hearing problems. In fact, there are times when being able to ‘tune out’ is a distinct plus in life!

Mastering my first musical instrument
I am sure that those who know me would not accuse me of bragging if I claimed to be a natural musician. Does that surprise you? A deaf musician? Is there such an animal? Well, you be the judge.
I have no idea how I got hold of my first mouth organ but I do remember that I was six years old at the time. The only music I knew was what we sang in church. No one else in the family knew how to play the mouth organ so I set about ‘mastering’ it, using a system that I was to use on other instruments in the future. (I can now 'play a tune'on Sax, clarinet, piano,organ, keyboard, penny whistle,piano-accordion, concertina, among others, and can actually read music and perform on brass instruments such as trumpet, trombone. As for guitar and mouth organ, I have performed in public playing 'by ear'. That can't be too bad for a deaf person!)
My system for learning to play a music instrument is very simple: play one song until it can be played faultlessly! The song chosen for mastering the mouth organ was ‘When the Roll is called up yonder’. At the time I had no idea that such a thing as ‘scales’ existed. My efforts were much like someone who grows up knowing how to speak a language without knowing the grammar or being able to read. To say that I played that hymn ad nauseum as far as my mother was concerned is understating the case. I probably played it hundreds of times before I could play it through without a mistake. I would start from the beginning and play until I made a mistake – then start again. My mother got fed up with me one day and said I should try some other hymn. But I persisted with ‘When the Roll is called up yonder’… and persisted … and persisted. Just six years old but already I was discovering that mastering something took practice. (In just the same way, living the Christian life takes discipline and consistent commitment to achieving maturity). I should have put the same effort into my school work. Why I did not is probably because school work was forced upon me whereas playing music was by my choice!
The practising went on and on until the day came when I played the hymn through without a hitch. Only then did I venture into the playing of other hymns – and found that I could play them without a problem! In retrospect I think the process took about two weeks, so it was not too long a burden for my mother. The other family members did not suffer at all as they were either at work or at school.
It was to be years later that I learnt to play a brass instrument – my dad’s old cornet. For those not familiar with the term, a cornet is a squat version of the trumpet, but sounds mellower. More about that in the next section.

Religious instruction
I will forever be grateful to the Lord that I received my religious instruction in an evangelical church, in this case The Salvation Army. Although most people see ‘the Army’ as a charity or social organisation providing help for the needy, or as a brass band and singers who bring Christmas music to all and sundry, it is much more. It is a part of the body of Christ that was raised up by God to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s not to say I became a Christian early on in my years of attending the 'Army' Sunday school. In fact, I was eighteen years old and in my final year at school before I came under conviction that I was a sinner in need of salvation. No doubt the Holy Spirit spoke to me many times during my younger years but there was no response from me until the day I realised that if I did not change my ways I would end up in the place of torment forever.
The point I want to make here is that people can be under a ministry of sound gospel teaching, sometimes for years, and never respond to it. Like me. My father, ‘Snowy’ Kidgell, was the bandmaster and once I learned to play a brass instrument – I was twelve years old – I became a bandsman and had to sit through the morning and evening worship services every Sunday. So I had the opportunity of hearing the invitation to ‘get saved’ many, many times between the ages of twelve and eighteen. But those who do not realise how serious a matter it is to ensure that they are ready for eternity are usually indifferent about making right with God. Often people are led away from seeking God’s forgiveness through wrong thinking that going to church and doing ‘church things’ is sufficient to book a place in heaven. The scripture on this says: ‘By [the] grace [of God] are you saved through faith [in Jesus Christ]; and it is not thanks to your own efforts at being good; God offers salvation as a free gift, that is, it is not as a reward for your works [going to church, reading the Bible, offering up prayers], so that you can’t boast to God that you managed to get it right by yourself!’ (My paraphrase of Ephesians 2:8-9). There is no way in the world that any of us can make ourselves right with God by our own efforts! Those who make this mistake are going to hear the dreadful words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23:
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven [i.e. that is, by putting into practice God’s commands which are: to listen to His Son when He tells us that He alone is the way to the Father as in Matthew 17:5 and John 14:6]. Many will say to Me on that [Judgment] day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them very clearly [that doing good works in my name does not mean that you are saved, therefore] “I never knew you for you are not one with Me. Get away from me, you sinners!”’
Very clearly good works done in the name of Jesus are no substitute for humbling oneself before Him in acknowledgment of one’s sinful state and asking His forgiveness. Nothing else will get you into heaven. Just because you go to church and hear the gospel expounded clearly does not mean that you are saved, or are going to get saved. Getting saved is a matter of realising your sinfulness and need of forgiveness and actually reaching out to God for it. He is always ready to forgive the sincere penitent, but the penitent must know he needs forgiveness if he wants salvation, and must ask for forgiveness. And it does not only happen while listening to a sermon. There is a process called ‘coming under conviction’. This is the work of the Holy Spirit. He uses sermons, Bible readings, or even the testimonies of friends, to make us aware that we are sinners who have no place in God’s kingdom. Once we realise our sinful shortcomings as pointed out by the Holy Spirit we must act on that conviction by asking God to forgive us, and accepting the salvation He freely offers.
Let us look at the example of the thief on the cross as related in Luke 23:39-43. The thief acknowledged his sinfulness and asked Jesus to ‘remember him’. That simple confession of sinfulness and petition for help was enough to wipe out his sins and to open the door into paradise. No catechism, or long years of service for God, or doctrinal correctness was needed. Just an acknowledgment of his sinfulness, and his humble request to Jesus for help. While we don’t know much about him it was clear that he recognised Jesus to be divine with a kingdom to go to. This, too, is necessary.

My views on how to become a saint of God
In this and the following sections I will share how I came to be a child, or saint, of God. (There are over sixty references to the ‘saints’, i.e. the Christians, in the New Testament alone. Acts 26:10 is one such).
Right at the outset I want to make it clear that I do not believe in a ‘gradual awareness that I am a child of God, having always believed in Him from an early age’. This was the view of one commentator that I remember reading about. To my mind that sounds like someone saying he became a Christian piecemeal, much like a baby being born in parts, first a leg, then a few days later out comes one of the arms, and so on, until after a couple of weeks all the parts of the child have emerged and been put together. Or, as if God, in writing the commentator’s name into the Book of Life, puts in the name a couple of letters at a time until eventually, after some months or years, the whole name is written in. If I sound facetious I apologise, but I am seriously trying to make you think about this. There are two reasons why I am trying to convince you that being born again, or ‘converted’, happens in an instant.

Why I want everyone to believe that conversion happens in an instant
Firstly, conversion, as I have shown, just cannot be a long term, drawn out event. It does not make sense, to me anyway. Either you are a Christian or you are not one. While there might be stages in one’s understanding of what it means to become a Christian, there are no stages in the actual change from being a non-Christian to being a Christian. I don’t see any scriptures supporting that concept. Your name is either in the Book of Life or it is not. Either you are ‘born again’, ‘born from above’, or you are not. To me it is that simple. Let’s look again at the thief on the cross mentioned earlier. One moment he was a ‘lost soul’. The next, following a simple acknowledgment of sin and a need for a Saviour, he is assured by Jesus that he is going to end up in Paradise. No gradual change in spiritual status; it is immediate.
Let’s tackle this matter from another angle. I’m sure you will agree with me that a man is made up of body, soul, and spirit. In broad terms, the body is the tool whereby man interacts with his environment; the soul (the ‘natural’ man) allows man to commune with other men; and the spirit enables him to commune with God. There’s no problem about understanding the body and soul part, but when it comes to the spirit we have a problem. Our spirits are either dead or dormant (let’s not fight about words) and need to be ‘quickened’ before we can appreciate spiritual matters and connect with the Spirit of God. This is how Paul describes the situation:
But the natural man does not grasp the things of the Spirit of God: they are foolishness to him: nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1Co 2:14
There we have it. The things of God can only be discerned spiritually. From birth men are operating under the control of their natural man, so they do not, in their hearts, relate to spiritual matters. It is the reason why unsaved men do not appreciate who God really is. And they will not know Him until their spirits are quickened, that is, they are ‘born again’. Only then are their spirits made alive. It happens when they confess their sins and receive forgiveness. Once spiritually cleansed their spirits are alive to God; only then are they fit to commune with Him; only then can His Spirit indwell them (Acts 2:38). In writing to the believers in Corinth Paul reminded them of their changed status with God:
‘Don’t you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?’ 1Co 3:16
In concluding this first point I must point out that the quickening can’t be gradual, nor can the entry of the Holy Spirit into us be a long term process. That is why I am convinced that conversion is an instant affair.
As for my second reason for believing that conversion happens in an instant I want to refer again to the words of Jesus quoted earlier from Matthew 7:21-23:
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven [i.e. that is, by putting into practice God’s commands which are: to listen to His Son when He tells us that He alone is the way to the Father as in Matthew 17:5 and John 14:6]. Many will say to Me on that [Judgment] day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them very clearly [that doing good works in my name does not mean that you are saved, therefore] “I never knew you for you are not as one who is with Me. Get away from me, you sinners!”’
Notice that these people made a confident claim to having a master/servant relationship with Jesus in which they called Him ‘Lord’. They also, to the best of their knowledge and belief, were busy doing the sort of things that the Lord told the disciples to do, that is, prophesying in the name of Jesus, driving out demons in His name, and performing many miracles, presumably thinking they were doing so in His name and by His power. Yet Jesus rejected them and all they supposedly did for Him, saying that He never knew them! Yet He assuredly does know His sheep as we read in Joh 10:14 ‘I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known by those who belong to Me.’ Those who know Him can only be those who have His Spirit indwelling them; those who are born again.
Why will those people be rejected? Obviously because they were mistaken about their status with God. I believe there are many supposedly ‘Christian' ministers and their congregants, who are going to hear those dreaded words from Jesus simply because they did not humble themselves before God, confessing their sins and asking God for His forgiveness and salvation. In their ‘natural’ thinking these ministers and members realised that there is a God to whom they must one day give an account of their lives. Very commendably they wanted to be on His good side, so they went about doing the sort of works that they expected would please Him. But all such ‘good works’ are done ‘in the flesh’, by the ‘natural man’, and not according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (for He obviously does not indwell them).
You can only please God by doing things His way. Those who do things by their own abilities are trying to do them without God’s help or guidance. In a sense they are showing God they can operate without His help. But God does not need or want us to show what we can do for Him; He wants our submission to His will. The only way we can please God is to first get right with Him by being born again spiritually. Then only, under the guidance of His Holy Spirit within, will we be led to do those things that will please Him, and will be known to Him by name. Only for those who hear His voice will there be no fear of rejection of them or their works on the Judgment Day! It is for this reason that I hope you can see why I want everyone to believe that salvation, or being born again, is an instant thing. Besides, read John chapter 3, especially verse 3 where Jesus makes it clear that we must be 'born again' if we want to enter the Kingdom of God.

When ‘Christians’ are not Christians
I believe that when someone who is supposed to be a Christian is not born again and not following Jesus as the only way to God, strange practices will emanate from them on their supposedly ‘Christian’ walk. Here’s how I believe we can identify those who purport to be Christians but are not and so will be rejected by Jesus on the Judgment Day. Based on John 14:6 some of my guidelines (not comprehensive) for identifying the unsaved ‘Christians’ (including ministers, deacons, workers), are:
1. They do not accept the whole Bible as God’s infallible word (more in this in a later chapter), choosing from it what they want to believe. Given that they are not guided by the Spirit of truth (John 14:17 and Romans 8:9) there is no way they can know what is truth. It is from these ‘Christian ministers’ that we have such spiritual aberrations as: rejection of the Virgin Birth; the concept that ‘all religions lead to God’ thus rejecting Jesus’ claim that He is the only way to God; condoning the practice of homosexuality, giving rise to ‘gay bishops’ with male ‘partners’; and arguing against such doctrines as the existence of Hell; Judgment Day; and the prevalence of sin in man;
2. They tend to preach and practise a ‘social’ gospel in which community and individual upliftment is undertaken in place of preaching the gospel of salvation from sin. This is what ‘good works’ is about. They substitute social activity for the gospel because they are not getting out of their ‘Christian walk’ the blessings they would have were the Holy Spirit living in them.
Please note that I am not against homosexuals (or drunkards for that matter); only against the practice of it. In various Christian magazines and in some testimonies I have heard of those who once were homosexuals (or drunkards) but who stopped being such when they became born again. They realised that practice of homosexuality is sinful, for as soon as they became born again the Holy Spirit Who now indwelt them warned them against the continued practising of it (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). I repeat, it is the practice of homosexuality (or any other sin) that is the problem. So when I hear about gay ministers who live with male partners I am convinced that they and their partners will hear Jesus say: ‘I never knew you; get away from Me, you evildoers!’

My conversion, or how I became ‘born again’
So how and when did I become a Christian, a born again believer? In spite of hearing the gospel clearly preached as a bandsman in The Salvation Army in Pietermaritzburg through a number of years I was not converted there. That was not the fault of the preachers, but rather had to do with my lack of awareness of the need for personal salvation.
In order to play in the band I had to be at least a junior soldier (a young member). Somehow I was able to convince everyone that I understood all about the way of salvation and was ‘saved’. This made me eligible for junior soldier status. Now junior soldiers are supposed to ‘give their testimony’, however short it might be. Nobody seemed to notice that, apart from definitely always being very short, my ‘testimony’ was never given in the first person. That is because I did not want to lie. My 'testimony' usually went along these lines: ‘Take Jesus to be your Saviour and you will be sure of going to heaven, Hallelujah!’ Needless to say I only gave my ‘testimony’ when called upon to do so. I was not saved; not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so I was not able to spontaneously testify to the saving and keeping power of Jesus Christ.
Churches operate on very similar lines, so it is regrettable that far too many young people grow up without ever getting to know Jesus in their hearts. Maybe in their heads, but not in their hearts. Some like the religious activity so much that when they enter adulthood they continue going to church, and even enter the ministry, without being saved. Others tend to regard religion as being no more than a good habit and sometimes stop going to church. Then there are many who reach adulthood with no desire to ever go to church again, regarding it as a waste of time except for weddings and funerals. That is because they have not tasted the true joy of having a life-changing experience that takes place when they accept Jesus into their hearts as Saviour and Friend. Fortunately some do get to the point, as I did, where you know that although you can readily afford to live without Jesus you cannot afford to die without Him!
What happened to me was what happened to many another young person. I reached the point where I began to regard religion as ‘old hat’; as something for small children (they can listen to the cute Bible stories) or old people (they are too old for the weekend sports). I wanted to join in with the activities of my friends; I wanted to be part of the ‘in crowd’; I wanted to enjoy the normal (Christians usually spoke of ‘worldly’) pleasures they did. Actually, in retrospect, I can say that as far as I knew they were not a wild bunch in that there were no drugs – apart from the rare one or two who smoked marijuana – but some did drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and use foul language. Wanting to be one with them I also began smoking and using foul language, the “F” word very prominently. Because of awareness of the dreadful results of alcohol abuse from the testimonies of former drunkards who had been gloriously saved and were living clean, on-fire, lives for Jesus, I never took to alcohol in spite of having sampled an occasional mouthful. I believe it was the Lord Who caused me to dislike the bitter taste of all alcohol.
By this time I was in my final year of school. I was wearing a Salvation Army junior soldier’s uniform and playing in the band on Sundays, and wearing a school uniform and swearing and smoking through the week. As any thinking person would do, I began to see that I was being hypocritical, especially when the preacher touched on swearing and bad habits. Back then many Christians regarded smoking as a really sinful habit. The double life was starting to get to me. It was around then that my late Aunt Flo Harris was having young people’s fellowship meetings in her home on Wednesday nights. I will always love and appreciate her. She was a sincere Salvationist who was always doing what she could for her Lord right up to the day she died. She was not in uniform but her heart was right, unlike me. I wore the uniform but I was not right with God.
Anyway, the meetings were started to be of encouragement to young people, many of whom studied at the University of Natal (now Kwa-Zulu Natal) around the corner. About twenty to twenty-five met in her lounge each Wednesday night to enjoy a sing-song and a message. Afterwards my aunt – a great home caterer – provided refreshments. I knew her cakes were wonderful, so when she invited me to come along to the meetings I readily accepted. When she mentioned that there were some pretty girls from varsity attending the meetings I was even more determined to go along.
That first Wednesday night around July/August 1957 I enjoyed the cakes and the cool drink and also the friendliness of the young people. The leader of the group, Don Holgate (who later prayed with me when I was born again), played the piano accordion while the crowd sang the choruses with great gusto. But something else caught my attention that night. I could not help noticing the vibrancy of their testimonies and the joy on their faces as they sang and shared. That night I realised that I did not have whatever motivated them – and wanted it!

Steps to salvation
The second Wednesday that I went along I focussed more on the real purpose of the meetings – to promote Jesus – rather than on the girls and eats. After a couple more Wednesday meetings I was determined to have whatever it was that gave those young people such joy. By now I was very aware that I was a sinner in God’s eyes. In fact, I thought I was such a bad sinner that I felt it necessary to ‘clean up my act a bit’ before I could speak to God about getting right with Him. I was about to discover that without God’s help that is impossible; there will always be a falling down spiritually speaking. Anyway, that weekend I realised that I could no longer pretend to be a Christian – going to church and looking holy on Sundays while willfully sinning through the week. By now I was also strongly aware that I did not want to end up in Hell. Something had to give so I decided that, as a first step, I would stop swearing and smoking.
After one of those meetings, I think it was the one held on 16 October, 1957, Don chatted with me after the meeting. I was sitting astride my bicycle when Don sprang a question on me: did I have Jesus in my life? I was too shocked to speak coherently. After a few stunned seconds I replied with something that sounded like ‘Mfffmffmm” then rode off like crazy on my bicycle, speeding all the way home. Long afterwards Don said he could never figure out what I said that night!
All the way, as I rode, I realised I was not saved, in spite of many years of Sunday school, Sunday services, and Friday night youth. Now I must make something clear. It’s not that The Salvation Army failed me. It was a case of me not being quite ready to see my need of salvation. Only when I became hooked on swearing and smoking did I begin to see myself as a sinner. It was only then that I came under conviction about my sinfulness and need of salvation. Thanks to clear teaching in The Salvation Army I knew that my parents being Christians did not mean that I was automatically one myself! And I had heard enough preaching to know that I was bound for the lake of fire if I died at that moment – unless my life changed quickly for the better. But I felt so filthy with sin! How could God simply accept me like that? I convinced myself that I first had to do something about cleaning up my act. That, by the way, is another of Satan’s ploys to stop us from getting right with God. I was planning to do the impossible: I made up my mind that in the week ahead I would live a better life by not swearing or smoking. I was going to come clean in my own strength. To put it bluntly, that was mission impossible, for only God can give the victory over sin.
That week at school, from Monday to Wednesday I tried to control my words, to not use foul language. But trying to obey God in my own strength and on my own terms is not acceptable to God; it is not what being a Christian is about. The result was that I failed to stop smoking and swearing. It was what Jesus meant when He said: ‘Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5).
By Wednesday I knew I had failed. Every second word was a swear word. As for smoking – I was more addicted than ever! I was getting nowhere with this 'self-aid to holiness' story. In later years, while collecting money for charity I knocked on the door of the home of a man who was the treasurer of one of the Jewish congregations in Johannesburg. It was on a Friday evening. I noticed that the maid opened the door while he stood by. I told him I was collecting funds for one of our homes. He told the maid to go and get some money and give it to me, which she did. While she was away, I asked him about himself. He told me about his involvement in the synagogue; that he obeyed the laws of God such as not working on the Sabbath. That was the reason he did not open the door or get money out for me. The servant had to do those ‘work’ activities because it was the Sabbath! Surprised, I asked him how prepared he was to meet God. He promptly replied, ‘Oh, I estimate I am about 90% right with Him’! I was intrigued by his answer, but I am glad that Jesus has taken away all my sins and I am now, and will always be, 100% ready to meet my God. It is not about me being superior in any way; it is about Jesus Who controls me. I give Him all the glory.
That Wednesday night, before my conversation with Don, a Mr Turner brought the message to the group that had met at Aunty Flo’s house. All I can remember about it was that he challenged us to get right with God or face a lost eternity. By the way, although Aunty Flo was a Salvationist the meetings were open to all denominations. Don was at that time a Baptist, as were most of the speakers, including Mr Turner. There were Methodists, charismatics, and others.I was the only Salvationist young person there.
Mr Turner’s message must have hit home to me. He said he would pray with anyone who put their hand up. I was sitting on the opposite side of the large lounge from him, with some others sitting in chairs in front of me. My hand sneaked slowly up – to shoulder height. No one saw it, so I went away without making right with God. But that was the night when Don had asked me if I was right with God. I couldn’t say ‘yes’, so mumbled and sped off. But I now knew the truth about myself – I was a lost sinner in need of salvation.
For two more days I was in spiritual agony – ‘what if Jesus came now? What if I was killed in an accident before I had made right with God? (I was yet to learn how gracious and loving God is!)
The next couple of days – Thursday and Friday – I continued even more desperately to at least get a little bit more right with God, but the swearing and smoking never stopped. That Friday evening, instead of going to The Salvation Army youth that night, I arranged to meet Don at the Baptist Church in Chapel Street. After the other young people had left I told him I wanted to get saved. He was only too glad to pray with me until I had received Jesus as my Saviour. I think the date was 25 October 1957. I know in my heart that that night I became a child of God and that my name was written down in the God’s Book of Life.
It was after years of full-time service for Jesus, all the while struggling to preach about Him, that John Wesley finally came to realise his own need of salvation and was gloriously saved through the ministry of the Moravians. He described the experience in this way: ‘My heart felt strangely warmed’. Well, that night I knew something had happened in my own heart. It was not only that I saw the world as a more wonderful place, or that I was now full of God’s love, but it was something that I was to identify in the week ahead. It was that God had entered into my heart and was now in control of my life.Ihad become a 'new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
That next Sunday after my conversion was the first time that I really understood the preaching and thoroughly enjoyed the services. The following day, Monday, I was a bit shy about telling any of my friends at school that I was a Christian. So I said nothing, although something inside me was eager to tell them. However, on Tuesday, one of them came to me and said: ‘Hey, Ed. You’re different!’ Surprised, I asked him: ‘In what way am I different?’ He replied: ‘You’re not swearing any more!’ Only then did I realise that what he said was absolutely true: since Monday morning I had neither sworn nor smoked!
This was my opening. ‘That’s because I have become a Christian.’ The news spread rapidly through the school. Years later one of my classmates, George van der Merwe, who later became a Full Gospel minister and has now entered Glory, told me that it was my conversion that led to him becoming a Christian. The thought was: ‘If Kidgell can change, then so can I’. There were others who also changed, which shows that we are all under scrutiny whether we realise it or not.
I was so full of the experience of becoming a Christian that I had not given any thought to my swearing or smoking. That I had stopped without effort on my part was clear proof that the Holy Spirit was now guarding my tongue and my habits. In an instant, at a specific moment in time, my life changed as I became a born again Christian. The Holy Spirit had come into my life and taken control. Where I had tried for a whole week to stop swearing and failed, the Holy Spirit did the job in an instant.
Through the more than fifty years since my conversion I have not always allowed the Holy Spirit to have His way in my life – and had many problems as a result – but God the Holy Spirit has never stopped living in me and striving to help me grow in Christian maturity. Believe me: He’s still very busy with me!
Do you need to know more about the Holy Spirit indwelling believers? Read the first letter of John chapter 5. And if you do not yet know Jesus as your Saviour here’s a simple prayer to guide you into becoming a born again believer:
‘Father God, I come to You in the name of Jesus Your Son, and confess that I am a sinner who is not worthy of dwelling in Your Kingdom. I believe Jesus died on the cross to take away my sins so that I can live with You forever. I confess that I am a sinner, and accept Jesus as my Saviour, and ask that Your Holy Spirit will help me to make Jesus Lord of my life. I ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.’
If you have just prayed this prayer, believing with all your heart, then you are a child of God! Your next step is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into getting in touch with an evangelical minister with a growing church. You will learn many doctrinal issues from what I will be writing in the future as I continue sharing my spiritual odyssey, but it is good for you to have fellowship with other born again believers. If you still need help don't hesitate to contact me.

In the chapters that follow I will be sharing my views on certain doctrinal issues that confront the church – the church as in the whole born again community – and how you can avoid some of the pitfalls that I came foul of.


POEM : You Are Special

I have written a number of poems, some of which have been published in South Africa and overseas. Earlier this year, at the urging of family and friends, I compiled a collection of Christian poems in an anthology entitled 'You are Special'. The anthology takes its name from the first poem in it, the one below. I hope you are blessed by it. Permission is given for it to be used in church bulletins etc as long as it is not charged for, and credit is given to me as the composer.

'And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand'. (Revelation 8:3,4)


When life is like a desert
And praying seems in vain,
It is so hard to praise God
And wait for heaven’s rain.
But hang in there, believer,
For God is never slow
To send those healing showers
That make your spirit grow!

For He knows what is needed
To make your faith mature;
By trusting Him through hardships
You’ll learn how to endure!
Just think of Job’s great anguish,
Unable to conceive
Why he should be the target
Of trials that made him grieve.

And what of Moses? Waiting
Through forty long, long years
A-wand’ring through a desert
Before God’s voice he hears?
Think, too, of brave Elijah
Who cracked, and swiftly ran
When Jezebel would slay him
Because he was God’s man!

There are so many others,
God’s heroes who once failed
But, by God’s mighty power,
Triumphantly prevailed!
So do not be disheartened,
God knows your heart today,
And all that you are needing
He’ll surely send your way.

So thank Him for your trials
For they are for your good.
Just wait on Him for guidance
As all God’s children should.
And do expect those showers,
For they are sure to come.
From time to time you’ll have them
Along your pathway home!

Friday, October 9, 2009


Never before in her life had she been so afraid. She was sure that her time had come; that her days on earth were about to end. And the ending would be dreadful – death by stoning. And just when she had at last made a decision quit her sinful life and live the rest of her life serving God! Was there to be no forgiveness for her? Had God rejected her forever?
She realised now that Joshua ben Eleazar had not betrayed her. The look of surprise on his face when they had been arrested had been genuine. Someone who knew of his lust must have been watching him. Or her? Maybe a holy God Who did not like being deceived had planned that she was the one Joshua was caught with. He had been surprised to see her in Jerusalem, and had greeted her with a hug such was his fondness for her. Although she had promised herself, ‘Never again!’ after quitting her life of prostitution and heading for Jerusalem, she had given in when Joshua had offered her a larger than usual fee. And that in spite of wanting to hurry home to her brother and sister in Bethany, and her decision to never prostitute herself again. And that’s when the temple police – some known to Joshua – had caught them. Why did God allow her to be caught? Did He not believe that she was determined to give up her old, sinful life now that she had enough money put away? Did He not believe that she seriously wanted to start a new life, trying to make up for her sinful past by doing good deeds for Him? Did He not see that she had hoped that her brother and sister would never find out what sort of 'business' she had been doing in Galilee? Or had her decision to have one last fling been too much for God to forgive?
Hoping that none of her Jerusalem acquaintances would see her with Joshua, she had followed him to the well-known brothel where they had been caught. Now she was being dragged through the streets in full view of the pressing crowds. One thing was certain: among those standing by was sure to be someone who would recognise her and tell others. Inevitably her brother and sister would hear about how she had met her end – stoned to death for being an adulteress, a prostitute. Neighbours and friends would snub them, and they would forever be ashamed of her for bringing disrepute to the family name. Her only consolation was that her death would stop her from seeing the shame on their faces at the thought that the money she had been sending them from her ‘business’ in Galilee was earned from sin.
Women were hissing at her as she was dragged along. ‘Whore!’ ‘Slut!’ they screamed. The men who were dragging her along looked amused as they pushed the screaming women aside. She knew the women were jealous of her rich garments, aware that she had bought them out of money paid by men like their husbands and male friends. Well, if the wives satisfied the sexual appetites of their men folk they would not have to worry about infidelity with women like her!
The crowd had seen it all before. When they heard the words, ‘Caught in the act! Come and see what happens to someone caught in the act!’ more people joined the procession in expectation of enjoying some entertainment. After all, it is not often that they had the opportunity to help kill someone. Their law laid down only one penalty for women caught in the act of adultery – death by stoning.
Occasionally, as she glanced back, she spotted Joshua following at a distance. She knew it was no use pointing out to her captors that the law required that he should be punished with her. After all, it took two people to commit adultery. But women always paid the price while the men went free. If she tried to implicate Joshua her captors would only laugh at her. The application of the law was so unfair!
They were now approaching the Temple area where her dreadful death awaited. She was quaking inside, but held her head high, not allowing them to see her fear. Their group was now beginning to mingle with another crowd ahead of them. That crowd was intently listening to someone, probably one of the rabbis that taught there. Some who seemed to be scribes and Pharisees came up to her captors who handed her over into their care. At first she felt relief, thinking that they were going to release her; but her heart sank when she realised that they were all party to some plan. Holding her firmly by the arms, the scribes and Pharisees forced a way through the crowd until they were in front of the rabbi who had been speaking. When threw her to the ground in front of him, He stood up and faced them.
In spite of the terrible fate that awaited her she tool time to look at the rabbi with growing interest. Her professional judgment about men had taught her something about character. Although she had long ago come to think of all men, even Joshua, as being no better than lusty animals, there was something different about this man, this rabbi. A tingle ran up and down her spine. There was such love in the eyes of the rabbi, such compassion in the way he looked at her, such gentleness in his movements, that she felt utterly unclean. In his presence she felt shame for the kind of life she had been forced to live. If only I had met such a man before my brother took ill and could no longer support us. I would never have had to leave home on the pretext of finding work in Galilee. For I had no skills to offer other than myself; my body. Eyes closed, she knelt in front of the rabbi. She heard someone address him in an arrogant tone.
‘Teacher’, he demanded, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses commands that we must stone such women. What do you say to that?
She was not fooled. Although using the respectful term ‘teacher’, she immediately sensed that the scribe and his grinning companions were trying to catch the rabbi out on some points of the Mosaic Law. She fully expected him, if he was an astute man, to go along with the Law. Once he answered, her eternal destiny would be sealed for she would not have any time to earn the forgiveness of God. Even though it was a warm day, she shivered. For the first time in years her heart, hardened by the kind of life she had lived, began to soften and she felt tears in her eyes. God had already weighed her life and found it wanting. In spite of the desire in her heart for forgiveness from God she was never going to receive it. It was too late.
Strangely, the rabbi did not answer immediately. She stole a quick look at what was happening. The scribes and Pharisees were looking at one another knowingly. They had caught the rabbi out! Then to everyone's surprise the rabbi stooped down. He wrote something in the sand with his finger. When the puzzled scribes and Pharisees continued to press him for an answer, he stood up. Although no taller than most of the men in the crowd, somehow he seemed to tower over them. She had the impression of majesty, of one who was in control of all that he surveyed. Quietly but audibly, he spoke.
‘Whichever one of you is sinless must throw the first stone at her’.
Then he stooped down again and calmly continued writing in the sand as if there was no one else around. She closed her eyes again and waited. The formerly noisy, unsympathetic crowd immediately fell silent. Keeping her eyes closed she waited for rough hands to jerk her onto her feet and drag her to where the stoning would take place. Her tears flowed, but not for her coming death. Rather she was thinking that she now had no time to get right with God. In her heart she longed for forgiveness but had no words to express her desire.
Time went by yet still no one had touched her. She continued to kneel, her tears still flowing. Suddenly she heard the rabbi asking her: ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?’
Surprised, she opened her eyes and looked around. The crowd had gone! She and the rabbi were alone! What was going on? With a feeling of awe she answered.
‘No one, Lord’.
There was a smile on his face. She was never to forget the gentle yet firm words he said to her.
‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin again’.
As he spoke she sensed that he knew all about her desire to be right with God. Even as he said ‘Neither do I condemn you’, she believed that he was speaking on behalf of God. It had to be so, because for the first time since she was a little girl she felt clean, exhilarated, blessed! So many good emotions! Deep in her heart she believed God had forgiven her for all the wrong things in her past, and now she was free from her old life forever. God had heard her prayers, and had opened up a new life for her. And how better to serve God than by helping this gentle rabbi to spread his wonderful message of God’s forgiveness to all who wanted to be free from their sins? Wonder of wonders! Just when she thought God was not prepared to forgive her and had abandoned her, she now saw that He had actually used Joshua to get her to the rabbi who had shown her that God loved her! Not only had her life been spared, but her sins had been forgiven! Clearly the rabbi had a message from God. Surely she would learn much from him about the God who had forgiven her so much!
Her mind was made up. Because she had always been very thrifty she was now wealthy and independent, something rare for a woman. She would tell the rabbi about herself and become one of his followers, supporting his ministry. Then she would invite him to meet her brother and sister, Lazarus and Martha, in Bethany, giving her a chance to confess to them the truth about herself, and how God, through the rabbi, had changed her life. As for her past lifestyle, she would use that in a testimony to convince others that if God could forgive her, Mary of Magdala, He would forgive anyone who was ready to confess to being a sinner!

(Based on John 7:53-8:11. Although there is no conclusive proof that Mary Magdalene was the woman caught in adultery, but it is not impossible as future stories will indicate. Eddie.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009


8 October 2009.
Hi there!
I guess it had to happen sometime. After a lot of thinking about whether to go ahead or not, I have decided to go ahead with an account of my Christian experiences. The idea is for others to learn from my experiences (mostly mistakes!) so that they can avoid making the same mistakes that I did. At 70 years of age (as at September 2009) I have had a lot of opportunities to make many mistakes! But thank God for the peace He gives when we acknowledge our wrongs!

This is not going to be only an autobiography although I will share some of the events from my life. And it certainly will not be in chronological sequence. As I think of something I will be writing about it. It will be a sharing of what I have learned about being a Christian through the years since I became a born again believer on 25 October 1957, just before I wrote my matric. I will be including other writings such as short stories and poetry which I hope you will enjoy.

That born again experience determined how I view conversion. There are those who claim that they do not remember a time when they did not love the Lord and thought of themselves as His children. They cannot remember any dramatic change in themselves. For me there was a dramatic, clearly evident change. One day I was unsaved, using foul language like, as the saying goes, a trooper, and smoking to prove I was a 'man'. That night I acknowledged to Jesus that I was a sinner who was not worthy of going to heaven, and asking Jesus to be my Saviour and take my sins away. I immediately sensed the change in me. From that moment I stopped smoking, no longer used foul language or told dirty jokes, and knew that I was a different person. Why? It was explained to me later that the Holy Spirit of God came to live in me when I prayed for Jesus to be my Saviour. He immediately forgave my sins, making me clean spiritually which made it okay for the Holy Spirit to come into me and begin to change my habits, attitudes, and thinking.

I will be sharing many joys, victories and blessings that have come my way through the years. But I will also be sharing the not-so-good parts of my life with the view to helping others as they try to cope with their Christian walk. I know the experience of being a backslider when for 6 years I never went to church (back in the late 1960's) and the wonder of discovering that during those years God had never forsaken me. I will be sharing the lessons I have learned from the Bible; what it is like to live by faith when there was no guaranteed income; and many other matters that are part and parcel of life along the Christian road. I will also share my disappointment with the way many Christians - including me, as I found out afterwards - have not lived as they ought to have.

Have I any regrets? Yes, plenty of them. With the way God treated me? No, definitely no! But I have plenty of regrets about the way I have disappointed others, and not been as obedient as I should have been with God. I know now that I just never trusted Him as I should have. I was too arrogant, had too high an opinion of my own abilities for my own good, and so missed many blessings and caused heartache and anger in others. What am I doing about it? Well, I can do nothing to stop the memories of my stupidities, my wrongdoings etc from popping up in my mind from time to time. For years I would feel angry and despise myself when that happened. I would be miserable, which would have its effect on the joy I normally had in life. Paul the Apostle must have felt like that at times. You will remember how he went around arresting Christians and throwing them into jail, sharing in when they were getting killed - usually by stoning. He must have caused much harm to Christians and the cause of Christ. Fortunately God the Father is loving, gracious, patient and forgiving. He saw the potential for good in Paul, for Paul was doing his best to honour God, thinking that persecuting Christians was the way to do it. Seeing such commitment and honesty, God in the person of Jesus met with Paul on the Damascus road and made him realise he was actually fighting against God in the person of Jesus. That was Paul's conversion to Christianity. That could be expected, because Paul was determined to serve God, and when he realised that Jesus was God he became the greatest missionary the church has ever had, writing many of the letters that now appear in our New Testament. Paul's advice? 'Forgetting those things [mistakes] that are behind I reach for [God's] prize [for me].' (You'll find the whole verse in Philippians 3:13).

Incidentally, I have a different take on 'sins' committed against Jesus. Having learned that Jesus (God the Son) is loving and patient, I believe that He will accept any who confess their sins no matter the nature of their sins. A couple of years ago I was at a house church prayer meeting down at the South Coast (of KwaZulu-Natal) led by the pastor of a local Baptist church. He had a solid, vibrant testimony for Jesus. I found out afterwards that he was once a satanist, doing many satanic things. But even such activities does not put anyone beyond God's love! Just as God tells us that we should love our enemies, so God's love reaches out to all, even those who purport to be His enemies. God does not expect of us (e.g. loving our enemies) what He is not prepared to do Himself! But there must be an acknowledgment of sinfulness and a turning away from a sinful lifestyle and a turning to Jesus before God can pour His Spirit into us. Satanists who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord will lose out eternally, as will any others - atheists, agnostics, rebels - who refuse to honour Him.

That brings me to a related matter. When people are openly showing their anti-God ways it is easy to identify them - and PRAY for them! So it is with satanists. At least they have the courage of their convictions, as Paul did when he went after the Christians. I brought this up because of the anti-Jesus blog on Facebook that is drawing a lot of criticism - the one where they give Jesus the finger and the F-word. My initial reaction when I heard about the blog was anger. But when I received a second email about it, I began to think a little. Here we have a group that is anti-Jesus just as much as any Satanist. Can they be converted? Of course they can - provided they recognise who Jesus is and turn to Him in contrition. How many people have not done just as badly by using the name of Jesus as a swearword? We've all come across them - and God is waiting for them to also confess and turn to Jesus. And many, many have been converted and stopped using the Lord's name for a curse. Praise the Lord for His wonderful love!

Well, I think I've rambled enough for one evening. If you've read this far, may you be richly blessed in body, soul and spirit!
Saint Ed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

MM 1: Is it possible to understand the Bible without the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

Some relevant scripture verses [given in my words for greater clarity].
John 1:12 To as many as received Him [Jesus, as Saviour and Lord] He gave the authority to become the children of God, to all who believe on His name.

John 3:6-7 Flesh produces flesh; only the Spirit can give birth to spirit [in believers]… So you must not be surprised by Me [Jesus] saying to you that you must be ‘born again’ [i.e. born of the Spirit].

Galatians 4:6 Because you have become sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, so now you can call Him [God] ‘Abba’, which means ‘Father’!

Romans 8:9 You, however, are not [i.e. no longer] of the flesh but under the control of the Spirit [ever] since God's Spirit lives in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ [living in him], he does not belong to Him [God].

John 16:3. However, when the Spirit of truth [another name for God’s Holy Spirit] enters your heart He will guide you into all truth [about the Bible, God, Jesus etc].

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture [not just selected parts] is inspired by God and is useful for teaching doctrine, for reproving sinfulness, for correcting false teaching, and for teaching righteous living.

What these scriptures teach:
(This is actually what the Gospel – the Good News – is about!)

1. We need to become a child of God. As per John 1:12 we need to believe that Jesus came to be the Saviour of all who acknowledge that they are sinners not worthy to enter God’s Kingdom. We have already been born of the flesh; we must still be ‘born again’, this time of the Spirit, as stated in John 3:6-7.

2. Once we have confessed our sins and asked Jesus to be our Saviour we are ‘born again’. Simultaneously we become children (sons and daughters) of God. Because we are cleansed of all sin, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, we have become a fit temple for God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in us. From within us He becomes our Counsellor, Guide, Teacher, and Comforter, and we can call God ‘our Father’; just some of the things the Spirit does for us. That is the teaching in Galatians 4:6.

3. Some ‘Christians’, including church ministers and theologians, might try to persuade you that you don’t need to be born again to get into heaven; that to live a ‘good’ life for God is sufficient. It is not. Jesus said we must be born again for the Spirit of God to live in us. Romans 8:9 states that if the Spirit of Christ is not in us we are not children of God. Either you have the Spirit of God in you or you don’t. Make sure you are born again and have the witness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in you!
4. Once you are born again you will have the Holy Spirit living in you. He will teach you all the truth that you need to know about the Bible and its teachings. And because the Holy Spirit inspired the writing of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16) He will teach it correctly. He will never teach anything contrary to what He has inspired the writers of the Bible to write. So called ‘Christians’ who are not born again and are not led by the Spirit tend to cast aspersions on Bible teachings and live contrary to them.

SUMMARY: No one will understand God’s Word without the guidance of the Holy Spirit living in him or her.

May God help you to learn and apply these truths to your life!